Rematch slated in trustee racePublished 1:19pm Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Heads or tails?
The answer to that question is what decided the race for Upper Township Trustee in 2009 between then incumbent Don Klaiber and challenger Michael McDaniels. Each man had 1,272 votes. Bob Ackerman garnered 1,800 votes and trustee Craig Thomas’ term is staggered.
Heads it was, and McDaniels defeated Klaiber, who had served as trustee for more than 20 years prior, on a coin toss.
“I’ve always wanted to get into politics, but didn’t want to go big right off,” McDaniels said. “I plan on serving one more term as trustee and then running for county commissioner.”
The same three men are seeking two seats for Upper Township Trustee, but this time Klaiber enters the race as the challenger, a position he has not been in for quite some time.
“I accomplished a lot in my 24 years as trustee,” Klaiber said. “We put down a lot of blacktop and got our cemeteries cleaned up. I’m proud of what I’ve done and I would like to keep it going.”
McDaniels and Klaiber profess a mutual respect for each other, but Klaiber believes deciding the election on a coin toss — the first such occurrence in 17 years — was “really unfair.”
“The first count had me winning by two votes,” Klaiber said. “A recount showed that we tied, so then it went to the coin toss. I think I’ll win this time and there won’t need to be a coin toss.”
Before the 2009 election Klaiber’s house was destroyed by fire, to he says having to take time to rebuild kept him from being able to go out and talk to people as he has always done before.
McDaniels admits that winning the race on fate was rather unconventional.
“I remember thinking it was strange to choose people that way,” McDaniels said. “We could have drawn straws or done a number of things, but decided to do a coin toss.”
McDaniels, just as Klaiber, expects to not need the John F. Kennedy half-dollar to determine the winner in the upcoming election.
“I’ve done a lot since 2009,” McDaniels said. “We have taken care of our fire department and done a lot of paving and other things. But, the problem remains the same; we just don’t have a lot of money. We have to work with what we have.”
Klaiber feels his experience as a trustee is invaluable.
“I just feel like I’ll do a better job than my opponent,” Klaiber said. “People know that when they call me I’ll be there for them.”
Ackerman has served as trustee for 29 years; one year as an appointed trustee in 1983 before getting elected and only being out of office for two years, 1992-1995, after an unsuccessful run for mayor of Ironton.
“It’s all about priorities,” Ackerman said. “We have two cemeteries in our township, a 24-man volunteer fire department and 30 roads we have to take care of. As long as we keep our priorities in order, then we are doing what we were elected to do.”
Ackerman is proud of the fact all the roads in Upper Township not governed by the City of Ironton or the Village of Coal Grove have been paved.
“Upper Township has one of the smallest budgets of any township,” Ackerman said. “We only get $170,000 a year to operate.”
Ackerman said the trustees’ budget has been cut in half over the past few years, and their pay is based on their operating budget.
Chris Kline, chief deputy auditor of Lawrence County, said that Upper Township Trustees could make a maximum of $45.02 a day for 200 days, which equates to $9,004 a year.
“It’s definitely not about the money,” Ackerman said. “For me, it’s about being a hometown boy who grew up out in the township. I think we’ve done well. All I can do is work hard and hope people vote for me.”
Trustee Craig Thomas’ term does not coincide with McDaniels’s and Ackerman’s. He will seek re-election in two years.